The Literary Digest, 17 juni 1916
Bron: The Literary Digest

Armenia's Need


The ARMENIAN EXILES are eating grass in a vain effort to postpone the death by starvation that has already overtaken thousands. The only alternative to death for these unfortunates of the Turkish Empire is the adoption of the Mohammedan, faith. Some, indeed, yield to this extremity, but we learn from the New York Evening Post that "the fortitude of most of the people under the sufferings which they are undergoing is wonderful, and they are not losing their Christian faith. The men of the families of many of the exiles are still serving in the Turkish Army." Mr. Henry Morgenthau, late Ambassador to Turkey, has given out that one of the main reasons for his recent resignation was his "great desire to make known to the people of the United States some of the conditions in the Turkish Empire, especially as those conditions affect the Armenians." In an interview in the New York Times he recalls his childhood tears over the scenes in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Evangeline"; but all these things, he avers, are nothing compared to what went on in Turkey under his own eyes. Most of the stories that have reached the United, he says, are founded on facts. He continues:

"The Armenians were living just as quietly and peacefully as possible, in friendship and close contact with their Turkish associates, when suddenly they were picked out to be deported. It was then that my heart bled for them. I had been given the privilege of dispensing charity without stint and with full authority on behalf of the English, Russian, French, and Italian nations - even the Serbians had sent me money, and Russia and Italy permitted me to help the poor Montenegrins in my charge. Suddenly, without available funds, I was confronted with the terrific problem of the destitute Armenians. Can you conceive how I felt? It was then that I sent an appeal to the Secretary of State for help, and the response came promptly."

"If the people of the United States could only see the distress as I have seen it. If they could see the gaunt, little figures of children, the little orphans brought to Constantinople by friendly Turkish officers, the need of prompt aid would be fully realized. There were two children I shall never forget who had lost their parents, and, nearly dead, were mere skeletons covered over by skin. There were women who came into Constantinople whose condition I cannot describe women who had to become Moslems in order to save their lives and reach the city."

"If I dared repeat the tales I have heard, sworn to and signed, they would make men and women weep and every one would see the need of sympathy and help. I wish I had the power to picture an Armenian refugee encampment and to tell how an American missionary hospital fed from its back door a thousand starving persons a day on an average of 3 cents a person with the $30 a day we gave it."

"There is no use of accusing anybody or finding fault with any one. What this great country should do to show its appreciation of the wonderful blessings that have been showered upon us is for each one of us to make up his mind to do his share. Picture that you are personally responsible for the starvation of one or two persons if you do not give funds to save them. Twenty-five dollars will enable an Armenian family to be established in comparative comfort. I believe every person would be happier to sacrifice something and give $25 for the Armenians." The money so far received has not been sufficient to help many people. The Turkish Government at first interfered with relief-efforts, but is now showing a change of heart. The present as well as the prospective need is immense. Americans may think they have been generous until they reflect on the 30 cents per capita of our relief-donations:

"It may be a Little indiscreet to say this, but I want to say that unless help is given to the suffering Armenians as well as to the destitute Moslems in Turkey, there will be a fearful amount of starvation next winter. They have not sufficient seed to plant their crops or animals to plow their soil. There is less than 10 per cent. Of the arable land under cultivation."

"The United States with its 100.000.000 people has contributed only the insignificant sum of $30.000.000 to all of suffering humanity abroad. We ought to drop our heads in shame. Our 100.000.000 people, who have average wealth of $1.600 have not given more than 30 cents a piece. Every one who has not contributed ought to be ashamed of himself. These Armenian people are exposed to the weather with very scanty clothing and nothing to eat, with disease rife among them, and hundreds are dying from starvation. We are the only people to whom they can appeal for help to-day, the only people who dare express their sympathy by actual giving. The people of other nations are afraid and unable to do it."

"We can raise in this country easily $500.000.000. That is only $5 per capita. If we are worth $1.600 each on an average, that is less than one-third of 1 per cent. Let the whole world understand that we are not willing to profit by this war, but we are willing to disregard profit and to be a big brother listening to the needs of the whole world."

"We have been hearing of the brotherhood of men. If we are all brothers, and we are, have we a right to live on in comfort and luxury and allow these people to starve? I do not think we have. I believe that it is our duty, it is our privilege, for each of us to assume the guardianship of as many of the Armenian people as we can. I do not preclude the other countries. They are suffering just as much. I believe the moral force of America will be doubled and trebled if the rest of the world understands that we are ready and willing and anxious to help the suffering masses."